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  • The Orthodox Church

    McGuckin/The Orthodox Church 9781405150668_1_pretoc Final Proof page i 20.2.2008 12:15pm

  • McGuckin/The Orthodox Church 9781405150668_1_pretoc Final Proof page ii 20.2.2008 12:15pm

  • The Orthodox Church

    An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture


    McGuckin/The Orthodox Church 9781405150668_1_pretoc Final Proof page iii 20.2.2008 12:15pm

  • © 2008 by John Anthony McGuckin


    350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148-5020, USA

    9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK

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    This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter

    covered. It is sold on the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services.

    If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should

    be sought.

    First published 2008 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd

    1 2008

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    McGuckin, John Anthony.

    The Orthodox Church : an introduction to its history, doctrine, and spiritual culture / John Anthony


    p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    ISBN 978-1-4051-5066-8 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Orthodox Eastern Church. I. Title.

    BX320.3.M34 2008



    A catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.

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  • For Bill and Maria Spears two extraordinary patrons of Orthodox theology in the New World

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  • McGuckin/The Orthodox Church 9781405150668_1_pretoc Final Proof page vi 20.2.2008 12:15pm

  • Contents

    Preface xi List of Illustrations xiii

    List of Abbreviations xiv Note on Sources xv

    Introduction: Strange Encounters 1

    1 The Pilgrimage of the Orthodox through History 5 A Brief History of the Orthodox from the Apostolic Era to the

    Middle Ages 5 Perspectives of history 5

    Earliest Christian foundations 7 The development of ecclesiastical centres 12

    The age of the Fathers 14 Creeds and councils 17 East and West: the parting of ways 20

    The Slavic mission 23 The Organization of the Orthodox Churches from Medieval

    to Modern Times 24 The extension of the Orthodox Church 24

    Synopsis of the organization of the Orthodox churches 30 The ancient patriarchates 31

    The Orthodox Church of Cyprus 44 The Church of Sinai 46

    The Russian Orthodox Church (patriarchate of Moscow) 47 The wider Russian heritage 55 The Orthodox Church of Greece 61

    The patriarchal Church of Bulgaria 62 The patriarchal Church of Serbia 65

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  • The patriarchal Church of Romania 66 The Church of Georgia 70

    The Church of Poland 71 The Church of Albania 72

    The Church of the Czech lands and Slovakia 73 The three autonomous Orthodox churches 73

    The various Orthodox diaspora communities 76 The Orthodox Church in America 80

    2 The Orthodox Sense of Tradition 90 The Holy Tradition 90

    Sources of Authority in Orthodoxy 100 Orthodoxy’s Reading of the Scriptures 102

    An ecclesial reading 103 The principle of consonance 106

    The principle of authority 108 The principle of utility 109

    Patristic and Conciliar Authorities 110 The Symbolical Books 111 The Pedalion (Holy Canons) 115

    Tradition and Revelation 116

    3 The Doctrine of the Orthodox Church I: The Glory of the Lord 120

    The Christian God 120 The Holy Spirit 126

    The Lord Jesus 141 The Immortal Father 158 The Holy Trinity 166

    4 The Doctrine of the Orthodox Church II:

    The Economy of Salvation 182 Humanity and its Sufferings 182

    Salvation and the Call to Ascent 198 The Song of Creation 204

    The Blessed Theotokos: Joy of All Creation 210 The Dance of the Blessed: The Angels and the Saints 222

    Outside the Gates: Demonology and the Enigma of Evil 234 The Church: Bride of the Lamb 238

    5 The Holy Mysteries and Liturgies 277

    Greater and Lesser Mysteries 277 The mystery of baptism 282

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  • The mystery of chrismation 285 The mystical supper: communion in the Holy Eucharist 288

    The eucharistic liturgy 296 The mystery of metanoia 300

    The mystery of the great anointing 306 The mystery of marriage 309

    The mysteries of ordination 323 The lesser blessings of the church 335 The services of prayer 336

    The Trisagion prayers 338 The daily offices 339

    Personal prayers 346 Traditions of Orthodox Prayer and Spirituality 346

    Methods of prayer 347 Prayer of the heart 349

    The Jesus Prayer 351 Hesychasm 352

    Fasting and feasting 353 The Holy Icons: Doors to the Kingdom 354 Sacred art 354

    The Orthodox vocabulary of worship 356 Icons and iconoclasm 357

    Icons of the Lord 361 Icons of the Virgin 362

    Icons of the saints 363

    6 ‘The God-Beloved Emperor’: Orthodoxy’s Political Imagination 380

    Caesaro-Papist Caricatures 380 Byzantine Models of Godly Rule 381

    The Ambiguity of Scriptural Paradigms of Power 384 The Concept of the Priestly King 388

    Dominion as Apostolic Charism 390 Patristic Ideas on Symphonia 391

    New Polities in the Aftermath of Byzantium 395

    7 Orthodoxy and the Contemporary World 399

    The Poor at the Rich Man’s Gate 399 The Grace of Peace and the Curse of War 402

    Freedom in an Unfree World 408 A New Status for Women 411

    Biological and Other New Ethical Environments 415 Sexual Ethics and Pastoral Care 420

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  • Ecumenism and the Reunion of the Churches 424 Religious Pluralism in the Global Village 426

    Evangelism in a New Millennium 430

    Glossary of Orthodox Terminology 436 Select Bibliography 443

    Index 453

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  • Preface

    In the course of my own winding, pilgrim’s, road to Orthodoxy it was the tangible

    sense of beauty that served as a constant allure. It was the radiant kindness of a few

    luminous souls, several of them bishops and priests, that made flesh for me what

    I had been searching for, not so much the zealotry that many were eager to offer me as

    their witness to the truth. Years later I came across a saying of St Symeon the New

    Theologian to the effect that a candle can only be lit from the flame of another living

    candle, and it struck me as exactly apposite. When Truth is a living person, we can

    no longer try to make it synonymous with mere accuracy. What is at stake is more

    a question of authenticity. Orthodoxy is often approached by those outside it as a

    system of doctrines. But it is far more than this, and this is why a book of systematic

    theology does not quite capture the reality. Orthodoxy is the living mystery of Christ’s

    presence in the world: a resurrectional power of life. It cannot be understood, except

    by being fully lived out; just as Christ himself cannot be pinned down, analysed,

    digested, or dismissed, by the clever of this world, whom he seems often to baffle

    deliberately.1 His message is alive in the world today as much as when he first

    preached it. The Orthodox Church is, essentially, his community of disciples trying

    to grow into his image and likeness, by their mystical assimilation t

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